Taking Root

Dir. Alan Dater and Lisa Merton, 80 min., U.S.A., 2008
Saturday 12, 2:00 PM · Tuesday 15, 4:00 PM.

Planting trees for fuel, shade, and food is not something that anyone would imagine as the first step toward winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet with that simple act Wangari Maathai, a woman born in rural Kenya, started down the path that reclaimed her country’s land from 100 years of deforestation, provided new sources of food and income to rural communities, gave previously impoverished and powerless women a vital political role in their country, and ultimately helped to bring down Kenya’s twenty-four-year dictatorship. TAKING ROOT tells the dramatic story of Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, protect human rights, and defend democracy–a movement for which this charismatic woman became an iconic inspiration.

Preceded by THE GIRL EFFECT, a three-minute internet call for action.

No Impact Man

Dir. Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein, 93 min., U.S.A., 2009
Saturday 12, 4:00 PM · Wednesday 16, 7:00 PM.

Author Colin Beavan, in research for his next book, began the No Impact Project in November 2006.  A newly self-proclaimed environmentalist who could no longer avoid pointing the finger at himself, Colin leaves behind his liberal complacency and vows to make as little environmental impact as possible for one year.  No more automated transportation, no more electricity, no more non-local food, no more material consumption–no problem. That is, until his espresso-guzzling, retail-worshipping wife, Michelle, and their two year-old daughter are dragged into the fray.  What began as one man’s environmental experiment quickly becomes an experiment in how much one woman is willing to sacrifice for her husband’s dreams.  NO IMPACT MAN provides both a front-row seat into the experiment that became a national fascination and media sensation, and a behind-the-scenes look at the marital challenges that result from Colin and Michelle’s radical lifestyle change.

Reading the Water

Dir. Niklas Sven Vollmer, 40 min., U.S.A., 2007
Friday 11, 9:00 PM · Monday 14, 4:00 PM.

READING THE WATER is an experimental “home video” and personal-poetic essay that mobilizes the coast of Maine–the sandbox of Vollmer’s youth and his marine biologist and naturalist professor-photographer father’s area of expertise–as a metaphor for exploring the depths and masculine relationships and family ecosystem sustainability across three generations of men. The work also acts as a love letter to Vollmer’s son and father.

Un mal pour un bien

Dir. Angelo Vermeulen, 23 min., Belgium, 2007
In Dutch and French with English subtitles
Wednesday 16, 9:00 PM.

UN MAL POUR UN BIEN is a documentary that focuses on the aftermath of the avian flu threat in the National Botanical Garden of Belgium during the summer of 2006. Up until then vast geese populations resided in this botanical garden. However, the birds both disrupted the local ecosystem and posed a potential health hazard because of avian flu. Consequently, drastic measures were taken to reduce their numbers. A ban on feeding by visitors was imposed and part of the geese population was–allegedly–gassed and eradicated. The film follows a micro-community of regular visitors who are strongly attached to the animals. Throughout the film they fiercely debate the relationship between man and the natural world, intolerance and aggression. They divulge alternative scenarios to handle the problems and contrive their own ecological analyses. It is evident that they are appalled by the events, and some try and show recorded traces of the apparent annihilation. Interestingly, this seems to be a widespread global phenomenon. Local pressure groups and action committees recurrently emerge to battle similar events in other countries. The rhetoric is often extremely anthropocentric and characteristically borrows vocabulary from the Holocaust.

An Injury to One

Dir. Travis Wilkerson, 53 min., U.S.A., 2002
Wednesday 16, 9:00 PM.

AN INJURY TO ONE provides a corrective–and absolutely compelling–glimpse of a particularly volatile moment in early 20th century American labor history: the rise and fall of Butte, Montana. Butte, home of massive copper mining and hence saddled with a legacy of environmental destruction, provides the back drop to this chronicle of the mysterious death of Wobbly organizer Frank Little–a story whose grisly details have taken on a legendary status in the state. Much of the extant evidence is inscribed upon the landscape of Butte and its surroundings. Thus, a connection is drawn between the unsolved murder of Little, and the attempted murder of the town itself.